colette_xlgDirected by Wash Westmoreland best known for the 2014 movie Still Alice in which Julianne Moore received an Oscar for her role, Colette is a fascinating period drama about one of France’s most renowned writers and is quite remarkable for its terrific acting, especially the dazzling performance given by Keira Knightley. The film is based on the real-life story of the French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, played by twice Academy Award-nominated Knightley in arguably her greatest performance, who moves from the French countryside in the late nineteenth century to the artistic center of the world at the time Paris after marrying a well-known writer referred to as simply Willy, played by the twice Golden Globe-nominated British actor Dominic West. After witnessing her remarkable writing talents first-hand, Willy encourages her to write novels in which he would be fully credited for writing them. They come upon a great success with the publication of a novel loosely based on Colette’s early life revolving around a French country girl named Claudine and her daily life and adventures in rural France. Over the course of the film, Colette becomes increasingly distant from her controlling husband and decides she would like to write for herself with her real name instead of his. The filmmaker does an excellent job of creating a beautiful and realistic depiction of early twentieth century Paris through the use of high-fashion costuming and sumptuous Parisian scenery in which the arts and high society are highly valued. Amidst this exciting backdrop, Colette evolves into a much more independent individual who explores her own sexual expression by entering into a sexual relationship with a beautiful young socialite, played by Eleanor Tomlinson best known for her role in the BBC television series Poldark. She becomes quite the sensation and even causes a riot in an already liberalized Paris with her extremely progressive views and unorthodox artistic expressions through her fashion and writing, including performing a risqué mime act in which she kisses a masculine woman. At the same time, she faces her sometimes cruel and desperate husband whose finances are rapidly collapsing. It becomes quite clear that his own career will never be as successful after Colette refuses to write anymore Claudine novels that have become such a cultural phenomenon throughout France, and, as a result, he becomes a shell of himself and their marriage begins to disintegrate. Overall, I found it to be a truly wonderful film that is brought to life by the dynamic performances of the lead actors, in particular Keira Knightley, and is especially relevant to today’s society in which sexual and artistic expression is accepted and women are using their platforms to speak up for gender equality, just like Colette did in her time.

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